The Executive MBA admissions cycle is in full swing, and there are just two application deadlines remaining to join the class enrolling this August: 10 June and 25 June.
We recently caught up with Managing Director of Admissions Brett Twitty to talk about where things stand with the incoming Executive MBA class, his advice for applicants and more.
Q: First things first! How is everything going?
Brett Twitty: Where to begin! It’s been a great spring. I spent an entire week in Charlottesville with our Executive MBA Class of 2023 as they concluded their program with their second and final Leadership Residency, commonly referred to as “LR2.” These students were the first guests to stay at the newly opened Forum Hotel, which is so incredible! The hotel was one of many highlights during a very full week that also included time at King Family Vineyard, Three Notch’d Brewery, a tremendous closing dinner, the list goes on.
My favorite LR2 moment is Final Reflections, an event that takes place on Saturday morning, the last day of the residency. It’s an opportunity for students to reflect upon their Darden experience, and it is a very moving reminder of how incredible our students are and how much life happens during an MBA program. We laugh. We cry. There are hugs, Kleenex, cheers, high-fives. It is an amazing tradition.
In many ways, May and June are the most wonderful time of year in our Executive MBA program. Our Second Year students are graduating, our First Year students are approaching the midpoint of their program, and our incoming Executive MBA class is starting to take shape.
Last but not least, I have really enjoyed watching our inaugural class of Part-Time MBA students move through the first quarters of their program. They are currently in Quarter 5, taking “Global Economies and Markets” with Ayhan Kose and “Leadership Communication” with June West. Getting to see these students at Sands Family Grounds every other week has been a real treat. The class really has an esprit de corps, and I can’t wait to welcome the second class of Part-Time MBA students to Grounds in August.
Q: Turning to the Executive MBA application process, is it too late to apply for the Executive MBA program?
BT: Definitely not. We still have seats available in our class and scholarship money to award, and, in a typical Executive MBA cycle, we will continue to receive applications into the summer months. We have two more deadlines, (10 June and 25 June) and as noted on our Application Deadlines web page, we will continue to accept applications after 25 June if seats in the class are still available.
Interestingly, there is no one time when the majority of our Executive MBA applicants apply, and we meet great people throughout the year! We offer multiple application deadlines to give applicants flexibility, and believe it or not, May and June are some of our most popular application deadlines. I think there is something about knowing school is starting in a few months that brings some urgency to the application process at this time of year.
People say to us “You know, I was thinking about waiting to apply, but I’m not sure I want to put my MBA off for another year.” That thinking resonates with me, and it certainly aligns with what we hear from our current students. Most of our students have thought about this step for several years. There is something very powerful about believing in yourself and taking the leap.
Q: In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception about the Executive MBA program?
BT: This is an interesting question. When we talk with prospective students, we find they often make the most assumptions about our Executive MBA program. In many ways, this is a product of the diversity of the marketplace and the fact that Executive MBA programs can look very different from school to school. As a prospective student, you really have to do your research to understand what each program is about and how they think about their target student.
In our experience, many prospective students get hung up on the word “Executive” and worry they are not in the right kind of role or do not have the right kind of responsibilities to do this program. As we often highlight, “Executive” describes a weekend/weeknight schedule that can be paired with a full-time job, not necessarily a target student, although we do have some students in our program who could consider themselves Executives within their organizations.
The preferred work experience minimum for our Executive MBA program is 5 years, and the average years of work experience is typically around 11-12 years. If you join us for one of our upcoming Executive MBA class visits (which you definitely should do!), you will likely notice that most of our students are in their late 20s to early/mid 40s – so it’s a pretty wide range!
There are so many different kinds of people who can be successful in this program, and there are so many different career outcomes that are possible for our Executive MBA students. Most prospective students are surprised to learn that roughly 50-60% of our Executive MBA students are interested in switching function and/or industry, and an even larger percentage are exploring multiple career paths. We invite you to learn more about this program — you might be surprised (in a very good way!) what you find!
Q: Any advice for applicants applying during the June deadlines?
BT: Things move quickly at this time of year, but we are here to help. We have a lot of great resources to help you navigate the application process, and we encourage you to check out our Executive MBA application tips blog posts as well as our App Tips podcast playlist on Spotify as you assemble your materials. Wondering where to start with your application? Our Application Process web page will also help you get organized!
As you gather your materials, we recommend starting by sharpening your resume. This will give you an opportunity to reflect upon your academic and professional journeys and to think about how an MBA fits into your career goals. You will also want to have a copy of your resume to share when reaching out to your recommender. Everybody wins!
Next, reach out to your recommender. We often get asked about who makes a good recommender, and it’s someone who knows you well. In our Executive MBA process, we have a preference for current supervisors because we want to know you have been talking with people at work about your interest in the program, and your current supervisor is typically best equipped to respond to the prompts in our recommendation materials. Of course, there are always exceptions to this general advice!
You will also want to collect your transcripts. We require transcripts for all degree-related coursework, and unofficial transcripts are just fine for the purposes of our application process. You will upload your transcripts to your application as you enter your education history, and scans, downloads or photos of your transcripts are all acceptable. Whatever version you choose to upload, just make sure it can be easily read.
What next? Before you begin typing, take a moment to read through the application. What’s required? What are you being asked to share? You won’t be able to mention everything about yourself through the application, so it’s best to think about the application as an initial introduction to you.
Finally, develop a list of application priorities – those things that you absolutely want to make sure the Admissions Committee knows about you after reading your application. Once you have that list, think about how the various elements of the application can help you advance these priorities. Our Admissions Committee will consider your application as a whole, so it’s important for you to think about how the parts of the application can work in concert to tell your story.